Our beliefs tend to color or almost define our worlds. The thoughts that we hold most dear are the filters through which we cyphon our experiences and produce meaning. Recognizing this would make one think that people would be deliberate in the creation of their beliefs. Unfortunately this is rarely true. People’s beliefs are often a mismatch of heritage and circumstances. This haphazard approach is bound to lead to disaster more often than not. I’m not here to offer a complete belief system but rather one small sample: Soccer Karma!
I’m a huge believer in soccer karma. It is a term that I may have coined (or stolen, not sure!). The concept is simple. On the soccer field, if you give a good ball, you’re going to get a good ball. Meaning that if you give a quality pass to a teammate, they’re going to give you a quality one back. This is of course, not completely accurate. It’s completely possible that you give a good ball and get a crap one back! This is true. However the belief matters more than the reality. If I believe that my intent is going to have positive returns, I’m more likely to put effort in that direction. That effort will eventually influence those around me, especially if we all believe the same thing. This belief acts a ratchet that brings positive returns.
For years now, I’ve been professing the positives of this belief system. While I know that it has paid dividends for my players and teams on the field, my hope has always been that the metaphors of our sport are not lost on those who play it. The moment that we step off of the field, we are being released out into a larger venue with bigger stakes and uncertain scoring. Regardless of that, the belief system can be applied with equal effectiveness. If enough of us believe in it, then we truly can make life “a beautiful game”.
It’s a regular occurrence to see English Football Teams on TVs across the United States at the moment. The Premier League is arguably the most popular league in the world and many of the most beloved English teams are on display regularly for the American audience. However my team is not! For close to twenty years, I’ve been supporting Peterborough United Football Club. The club is known by the nickname “The POSH”. They do not play in the Premier League. Nor do they play (at the moment) in the Championship. The POSH are a League 1 team which means that they are in the third tier of English Football. Since they are not on the television often, I follow my favorite team weekly through the internet by watching highlights and interviews on Youtube etc. This week I’ll be making my second trip to watch a match at their home, The ABAX Stadium (formerly London Road) and I can’t wait!
My interest in the POSH was completely unexpected. My girlfriend (now wife) bought me the first XBox and the FIFA video game to go along with it. At first I used Liverpool as my team because as a young player I had watched soccer videos with Kevin Keegan. Eventually I got bored with how easy it was to win the league. So I decided to choose a lower league team and get them promoted to the Premier League. As I was searching through the lower league teams, I found Peterborough. Since my name is Pete, it seemed like a fine choice. My POSH teams on the XBox were usually a combination of quality POSH players and a few of my favorite American or English players. Brian McBride and Scot Thompson were regulars in the digital version of the blue and white.
After playing the game with the POSH for a while, I decided to look into how the team was in real life. It was very casual at first but the season they got into a relegation battle really drew me in. After that I followed the team regularly online by reading the match reports and checking Skysports.com. The POSH forum at LondonRoad.net was another way that I got information relevant to the club. The slow burn of my love for POSH got a large log thrown upon it in September of 2006 when Darragh MacAnthony became chairman of the club. He stated that his ambition was to do exactly what I had done in the video game world. If I wasn’t hooked before, I was all in at that point. My newborn son had a full kit and I wore POSH blue (or bright yellow) regularly. In addition to game days, I wore the POSH colors whenever I ran long distance races.
In 2007 I decided that it was time to visit London Road to attend a match. It was possibly the most frugally planned trip that I could arrange. I was in England for three nights including one in a basement room of a one star hotel in London. It was an amazing trip! The main reasons that the trip was amazing were all POSH related. The team beat MK Dons 4-0 despite Shane Blackett getting sent off in the second half. After the match, I waited around for autographs from the players and coaches. Shwan Jalal and Craig Mackail-Smith were particularly nice to me. Unfortunately I did not get to meet the new manager, Darren Ferguson. At that moment, I mainly knew him as Sir Alex’s son. Eventually he would become one of the best POSH managers by putting Darragh’s plan for promotion into effect. By signing ambitious young players and putting them into a system that created boatloads of goals, he has become my favorite manager.
So after a twelve year absence, I finally get to return to Peterborough. Many things have changed but many have not. Darren Ferguson is the manager but he is on his third spell with the club. The club is still ambitious but pragmatic in its approach. On the outside looking in on playoff spots, there is a slim possibility that they’ll make the cutoff. Regardless I am still hopeful that I’ll get the chance to see one of the games culminating in a playoff promotion success. I know that it will be a great atmosphere having watched “Sunderland ’til I die!” recently, it’s obvious they have passionate fans. Regardless, I can’t wait to be there! It may require thousands of miles of travel and over ten years of waiting but I’m proud to be a POSH fan! Supporting Man United would just be too easy!
In this episode, Peter Loge and I have a wide-ranging conversation on soccer’s many uses as a metaphor. Peter is the author of “Soccer Thinking for Management Success.” Throughout the book, he discusses several different ways that soccer overlaps with management concepts. Check out his work at www.soccerthinking.com
Donna Fishter is a Leadership Coach and Team Architect who works with athletes and coaches in order to make their teams better. In this conversation we cover some of the ingredients of good leadership, red flags and remedies for poor team chemistry as well as an assortment of other topics. You can find Big D at www.donnafishter.com
Brian White was the first draft pick taken by the New York Red Bulls in the 2018 MLS Draft. In this conversation we talk about some of the things that set him apart as an athlete and the transition to life as a professional athlete.
This episode I got the chance to talk to Brad Nein, Coach and Blogger who works with kids and coaches in order to make a better experience of soccer. We discuss his beginnings, his dissertation and many other topics. To find out more about Brad and what he does, go to www.educatedcoaches.com or www.sweetfeetsoccer.org.
It’s far off in the future but it will be here in a developmental instant. Although the World Cup of 2026 is almost a decade away, the present is the only place where we can impact the future. Recognizing that Christian Pulisic and Tyler Adams may be the “veterans” of that team gives the extremely realistic picture that while our future could be bright, it is in our best interest to make it brighter. The loftier heights of the sport world are not reached by the individual but rather by a cultural movement that serves as a base to raise the many. So the US soccer needs to realize that it’s chess, not kick ball.
The reason is that our soccer culture has gotten extremely effective at creating only pawns. Christian Pulisic is an anomaly as an American player because of his versatility and vision. Generally speaking the youth systems of the country are extremely effective at creating players who can make the next pass and not much else. A slightly dumbed down version of the beautiful game where creativity is superseded by practicality. Although pawns are necessary in the game of chess, they are unable to win the game on their own. The major pieces, like rooks and queens, give the best possibility for victory because they are dynamic and possibly game changing. Opponents must fear them because they are unpredictable. They are in the right spots because they think five moves ahead from where the play is right now. And that’s what we all need to do with the game.
The recognition that right now is not the goal. The goal looms in front of us in the distance but we can’t reach it playing kick ball. We need to be playing chess, developing rooks, queens, bishops and even knights. Seeing a path that leads to eventual checkmate will only come if we are developing enough quality pieces, not pawns for our small game.
Head Coach, Evan Weller, has been building the soccer program at Phillipsburg High School for the past 16 years. This conversation highlights some of the components to their success and thoughts beyond the lines of the field.
In this brief solo talk, I discuss some of the things that I believe are being missed in our current soccer culture. Even they may be the most pressing and most apparent, they seem to be the most overlooked. Send in your thoughts and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org today.
Often the most important things are hiding in plain sight. We cannot see them because we’re so busy looking at things that we’ve been told are important or think that we value. A deeper inspection usually reveals that we’ve overlooked the most crucial things in the name of the most frivolous. It’s not particularly our fault as our brains were hardwired to concentrate on the urgent and short term because the long term was not guaranteed. Also there are some things that we look past completely because of the fact that they are so pervasive. One of my favorite questions to ask during presentations is “what is the most important thing that you’re going to do today?” I get a variety of answers depending on the crowd but the answer should be the same for everyone: breathe! The answer is so obvious and yet almost everyone misses it because it’s overlooked. My work at the moment is at a tenuous place where I am trying to balance that which I know is most important and what people actually see. So for now I am going to continue to do what I believe is right… NOT CARE!
I’ve decided to intertwine two of my greatest passions into one because in my eyes they fit so perfectly together. The most popular sport in the world (soccer) and the most important skill for doing anything in life (self-belief) are the twin targets that I’ve set my sights on. The reason being that it is important to leverage people’s behavior and soccer has motivated millions of people to shell out big money to have someone teach their child how to kick a ball more effectively. The reverse of that situation is that self-belief is extremely low in our younger generation because they have largely been robbed of the experience of self-discovery. Their activities have been planned for them since birth. Failure has been removed from their lives in order to protect them. And they have largely been taught that they are not as good as the people that they see on the screen of the super computer in their pocket. So what am I going to do about it… NOT CARE!
I’m not going to care about how many goals you score this season but rather the number of times that you keep working in a tough session.
I’m not going to care about the number of followers you have on Instagram but rather your ability to lead one person (you).
I’m not going to care that you didn’t get a starting position on the team but rather the ways that you control those types of outcomes in your life through your choices.
I’m not going to care about your desire to get recruited by the college of your choice but rather recruit the resources within you to make you an irresistible candidate.
At this point, you probably get the picture. I’m more concerned with the root than the fruit because I know that they’re so completely dependent upon one another. Focusing on the process at the most basic level may not produce the exact result that you’re looking for. It will however produce a person that is worth believing in and that’s what I care about!